Saskatoon

Saskatoon man draws on his own experience with depression to build new app to help others

Scott Borys and his business partner Daren McLean have created a new app called Hugr. It focuses on mental wellness, with the goal of helping others to survive periods of deep depression.

'Every new day was the worst day of my life,' app developer Scott Borys says of depressive episode

Territorial Creative's app Hugr is based on the survival story of team member Scott Borys, who suffers from bipolar spectrum disorder. The app helps people track their mood, and offers a message board for friends to check in. (Peerayot/Shutterstock)

Saskatoon's Scott Borys has always struggled in the darkness that comes with winter, but a few years ago those seasonal blues hit a potentially deadly low.

"Every new day was the worst day of my life," Borys told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

That depressive episode was persistent and didn't let up for six months, but Borys — who suffers from bipolar spectrum disorder — made it out alive and is now trying to help others.

Borys and his business partner in Territorial Creative, Daren McLean, are developing a new app called Hugr (a name that comes from the word for the Norse concept of the spirit of soul, and which the company pronounces "hugger").

We try to help people communicate to their support network in terms of letting them know they are in a dark place.- Scott Borys 

The app focuses on mental wellness, with the goal of helping others to survive periods of deep depression. McLean and Borys built the app, based on Borys' success.    

Borys can still remember only too well how each day was a struggle to stay alive, and credits his support network for helping him get through that period.

"At the beginning I didn't really have much of a support network," he said. "So I had to build that, which was a difficult challenge while I was in that episode."

A few years ago, a major depressive episode forced Scott Borys to desperately seek help from friends. His success story is the motivation behind a new app called Hugr. (CBC)

Borys had to build that network one friend at a time, by being vulnerable and having difficult conversations with people, asking for help.

Reaching out

Hugr aims to help people in a crisis, like the one Borys struggled through, build that network of friends, and educate them on the best ways to be a strong advocate and someone to lean on. The app helps people track their mood, and offers a message board for friends to check in.

"We try to help people communicate to their support network in terms of letting them know they are in a dark place," said Borys.

"Understanding where someone is at, in terms of how they are feeling that day, is huge," added McLean.

"It allows me, as a support person, to understand where and when and how to communicate."

Hugr is still in the testing phase but should be ready for mobile platforms early in 2019. (Territorial Creative)

Right now, Hugr is in the software testing phase. Both Borys and McLean understand that the full effect of what they've developed will only be realized when people can access Hugr on their smartphones.

That work is underway, and the two hope their company can deliver a mobile app for Apple and Android in the next few months.


If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, there is help out there.

​​​For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911.

You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566, the Regina Mobile Crisis Services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.

With files from Saskatoon Morning

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